Do you find rice pilaf boring, a pain to get right sometimes? You won’t find rice boring if you master this technique!

Chef Dave developed this method of making rice pilaf many years ago. Now he uses this process routinely in turning out rice creations of all sorts, Italian, Oriental, Cajun, you name it. Dave is a professional restaurant chef and restaurant manager and his goal with New Italian Recipes web site is to educate and inform, both those who wish to develop into serious gourmet cooks, and those who just desire to turn out better food for their family and dinner guests. It is pointed at those who want to have more fun cooking, regardlwss of their individual level of expertise. Rice pilaf dishes can actually be interesting, tasty, creative and even sexy (well maybe not exactly sexy) but they do not have to be bland and uneventful. Keep reading and you'll see what we mean!

Dave uses a lot of Jasmine rice for the wonderful flavor, but also because it cooks quickly. Basmati is very tasty but takes longer to get tender. And of course, Arborio, the rice most risotto is made with. It doesn't matter, this technique will work with any rice pilaf that is not of the yucky, instant variety. Longer cooking rice, such as basmati, wild and brown, you will need to use a bit more liquid. Use this ratio: for regular long grain white rice or Jasmine, use 1 part rice to 2 parts liquid. As detailed below, the liquid can consist of water, stock, wine, pineapple juice (yes a fruit juice can be used for part of the liquid), milk or cream, clam juice, you name it. Use a combination, be creative. This is a gourmet cooking web site!

The instructions are a little wordy, but after you read them once, you should have a really good understanding of the ease and the many potential variations.

New Italian Recipes
Italian Rice Pilaf

Heat 1 T olive oil. (You could also use one of those really neat flavored oils, or mix one up of your own by adding any combination of Italian herbs) in a non stick sauce pan.

When warm, add 1-2 minced shallots or onions and sauté briefly. At this point you can add a flavor enhancer if you want. I've added minced ginger to rice pilaf at this stage, celery, roasted red bell peppers, herbs, and probably a few other things.

Add another T of oil and add rice (a ratio of 1 cup rice to 2 cups liquid as a guide). Stir the rice around until the grains are coated with oil (do not brown the rice), about 1 minute.

At this stage, you have another chance to enhance. You could add a little white wine, a little orange, pineapple, or some other kind of juice. How about a touch of really good quality Balsamic Vinegar? (It actually sweetens a dish! (I add this touch to soups, pastas, and a lot of other things from time to time. This is truly a gourmet touch.)

Darn, I really got off track there. Okay, so we've added everything we are going to add before finishing the rice pilaf. Well, maybe not quite. Anyway, before you add any more liquid, let most of what you've already added for flavor variation to be absorbed by the rice.

Okay, now to the final step. We are going to add the rest of the required liquid now to make up the 2 to 1 ratio. It could be slightly more or less, depending on where you live and the type of rice you are using.

Okay, for the measurement: 1 cup rice, 2 cups liquid. No, I don't think you are a lousy or uninformed cook, but we did, probably, add some liquid to the rice pilaf before, remember? Fageddaboudit, okay, don't matta. The exact amount of liquid is not critical when you use this method. The key is  that when most of the liauid you have added is absorbed, taste the rice and see if it has reached your desired tenderness.

Remember, for the liquid, you could use beef stock, chicken, vegetable or whatever. Dave even has some homemade chicken stock around sometimes, but remember, homemade only has as much salt as you originally added to it. Purchased stock is usually outrageously salty, so homemade will add a very different taste (and a much richer, velvety one).

Okay, I usually either add all stock, or one cup of stock and one of water, whatever. It's really good rice either way. When this newly added stock comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.

Take it off the heat when 98% of the water is absorbed. Okay, there is an exact measurement for you!

Leave the lid on and the rest of the liquid should be absorbed before it is time to serve it. Sorry for the long-winded recipe, but I had fun, hope you did.


For those of you who stuck with me through all that diatribe, here is a condensed version:

One cup uncooked rice (try Jasmine or Basmati once in a while, even Arborio, the type of rice used for risottos. (Dave does about fifty different kinds of risotto. He'll pass a lot of those on at some point, promise). As a matter of fact, this cooking method is similar to that used for most risottos.

2 Cups liquid (try one half stock and one half water the first time and go from there)

2-3 T. minced shallots or onions. Add another vegetable or two, maybe even or fruit, raisins maybe? Never tried raisins, but it's a thought! Be creative.

1 + 1 T olive oil (extra virgin, preferred, of course) or other flavored oil.

Pineapple, orange or other sweet juice, if desired for flavor. White wine, if you like that.

In a non-stick sauté pan, heat oil briefly.

Add onions and "sweat" for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.

Add another T of oil and add the rice.

Stir until rice is just coated.

At this time, add any juice or wine that you like, only a T or two, maybe three. Let the rice absorb, about 2 minutes.

Add the rest of the liquid, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low.

Simmer about 15, until there is no liquid visible. Remove from heat and leave covered until time to serve.

Buon appetito always!
Chef Dave

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Italian Rice Pilaf Technique